The karma of defense acquisition scandal is a fickle beast.
For almost a year, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky have made hay on the CSAR-X contract, forcing the US Air Force to return to square one and re-compete the contract they errantly awarded to Boeing last November.
This week, Lockheed is getting some of its own contract overturning medicine in Ottawa. Last March, Canada fast-tracked a contract award to Lockheed for the Sniper XR targeting pod despite the fact Northrop Grumman and Raytheon were offering pods already in service with F-18s.
It was even more of a coup because it was widely believed that Canada would follow the lead of Australia, which the year before had selected Northrop’s Israeli-derived Lightning AT pod, which is usually described as the cheapest of the three third-generation targeting pods offered by the US for export.
Now, a tribunal in Ottawa has overturned Lockheed’s $126 million contract, according to the Canadian press. The news reports say the tribunal sustained a protest by Northrop Grumman “in part”, but do not describe any specific reasons for overturning the contract.
So Canada’s weapons buyers will likely have to re-evauate the decision even as Lockeed goes on delivering pods to the CF-18 units.
Even in the US, the odd over-abundance of options for third-generation targeting pods has made for some awkward moments. I remember about three years ago when John Young, who was then head of the Navy’s acquistion system, decided to re-evaluate the navy’s contract with Raytheon for the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) pod, suggesting that three different pods in-service with the US military was overkill.
Whether Young’s real strategy was to kill off one or two pods or to negotiate a better price with Raytheon remains open for question, but the navy’s re-evaluation died a silent death about six months after it began..